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By Tim Healey

WASHINGTON — Given the Mets’ early-season proclivity for huge comebacks and other improbabilities, you are forgiven if you refused to rule out such a feat longer than you otherwise would or should Wednesday night, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

But the Mets conjured no magic this time. They lost to the Nationals, 8-3, after Tylor Megill endured the worst start of his young career and the hitters did minimal hitting after the first few minutes.

That makes the rubber match Thursday afternoon a tad more interesting. On the line as Taijuan Walker faces Joan Adon will be the Mets’ series unbeaten streak. Through nine series this year, they have won eight and tied one.

This one got ugly early. Washington (11-21) shellacked Megill, who gave up eight runs in 1 1/3 innings. That was most runs allowed and the fewest outs recorded in any of his 25 major-league starts. His ERA ballooned from 2.43 to 4.41.

Staked to a three-run lead before he took the mound, Megill gave it back — and then some — fast. Cesar Hernandez led off the bottom of the first with a single, and Juan Soto walloped a two-run homer. Then Megill hit Josh Bell with a pitch (and recorded an out on Nelson Cruz’s groundout), gave up a double to Yadiel Hernandez and allowed Keibert Ruiz a tying RBI single. Maikel Franco’s sacrifice fly put the Nats ahead. Dee Strange-Gordon’s single made it a five-run opening inning.

Because the Nationals batted around, the second inning began again with Hernandez, who again singled. So did Bell. Cruz demolished a three-run homer to blow open the game. After Megill walked Hernandez, manager Buck Showalter pulled him in favor of long reliever Trevor Williams.

Of Megill’s 14 batters, 10 reached base. His eight runs allowed nearly matched his six-start total entering the night (nine).

That marked a stunning degree of ineffectiveness from the righthander who has been filling in admirably for injured ace Jacob deGrom. In each of his previous half-dozen appearances, including Opening Day against these Nationals, he lasted at least five innings and gave up no more than four runs.

Williams did what he could to give the Mets (21-11) a chance. He held the Nationals scoreless for 3 2/3 innings, allowing only two hits and a walk.

Righthander Stephen Nogosek, making his season debut, wrapped up with three hitless innings. That required just 45 pitches. He struck out three and walked two.

The first signs that the game might feature low-quality starting pitching came in the top of the first — but those circumstances favored the Mets.

Three of their first four batters scored against Aaron Sanchez, who entered with an 8.56 ERA in three starts. Brandon Nimmo grounded a double against the shift down the leftfield line (and cruised into second easily when leftfielder Yadiel Hernandez bobbled the ball). When Starling Marte bunted for a single and third baseman Maikel Franco threw it away, Nimmo scored.

Pete Alonso’s two-run home run, a no-doubter to leftfield, made it a three-run lead.

Megill’s mess seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the Mets’ lineup. After they put two runners on with two outs in the second, Sanchez retired Marte on a groundout, the first of his 11 consecutive batters retired into the sixth inning.

That run ended when Alonso ripped a 113-mph rocket off Sanchez’s left/glove wrist. He exited the game after a lengthy mound visit from manager Dave Martinez and an athletic trainer.

Alonso has three long balls in his past three games.

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Dive Deeper:
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One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
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Get all your news in one place